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Monday, November 4, 2013 - 7:52pm
El Paso, Texas (KDBC) — Large classes have always been a challenge for teachers, but one local school district is finding a way to overcome this challenge.
Until just recently, Clint Independent School District had more than 30 kids in some elementary classes, and that's typical of a lot of districts.
The problem is that's well above the state limit. But the district has now found a way to cut those class sizes dramatically.
In Texas, elementary schools are allowed to have only 22 students per teacher, unless the district submits a waiver asking permission to include more students in the classroom.
Last year Clint ISD submitted more than 40 waivers because of the growing population, but Clint's Superintendent has now found a way to cut class sizes, and in some cases almost in half.
“Since I’ve been with Clint my classes have always ranged from 30 to 32 students," said 6th grade math teacher at Horizon Middle School, Bertha Macias.
Macias said teaching is a challenge when you have more than 30 students in one classroom making sure each student gets the attention she/he needs.
"If I was helping 3 or 4 students, there were another 30 students who also needed my attentions,” said Macias. “But I just couldn't tear myself into pieces to help everybody."
But now the district has found a way to fix that. Superintendent Juan Martinez cut a third of all central office staff, which saves the district about a million dollars. He said that money was invested in hiring 23 new teachers to help cut down on class sizes.
"We flattened the organization to where I am now more involved more directly in the supervision of administration,” Martinez said. “We didn't need so many administrators in the central office."
The student to teacher ratio is now 22 pupils per instructor, a welcomed relief for teachers.
"I can really get students that one to one that they need and I know they are getting everything that they need,” said Macias. “Their questions are being answered and I am able to watch them work and help them where they are having the problem."
Martinez hopes another benefit of the smaller class sizes will be better test scores. But clarified the main goal is to help students get a better education.
"We are not just about test scores,” Martinez said. “We are about providing a good quality education. Students may not necessarily be the best test takers, but we want to make sure they get a good rounded quality education in the classroom.”
As Clint begins to reduce the ratio in the elementary level, other districts are doing the same. Socorro’s elementary student to teacher ratio is right at the state limit of 22 to 1.
In Ysleta ISD the ratio is a little smaller at 18 students per teacher and at El Paso ISD the ratio is at 16 to 1.